March 24, 2015

Weekend in Rotorua!

So this weekend I rafted off a 21 ft waterfall…

Wait, WHAT!?!?
Yup. It happened.

But let's start at the beginning. Last weekend the IFSA crew and I went on a trip to Rotorua where we had the chance to mountain bike, luge, and white water raft.

First on the list when we arrived in Rotorua was mountain biking. Biking through the forest was really different than the road biking I'm used to, but it was really awesome and something I’d definitely do again in the States. It's cooler and somehow more relaxing biking through a forest rather than on a road, even though you're going over roots, jumps, and rough terrain. 

I'm right down the middle!
We started out as a group on the kiddie trail and then moved up to a grade 2 trail (trails are ranked from grade 1-6). Here we split up; some of us moved to the grade 3 trail and some of us (myself included) went on a more scenic side trip through a glade of teenie-tiny palm-like trees beside a steam.

Standing on a bridge over the stream.

Very, very cold water.
The bikers in their natural environment...

After mountain biking we headed to the gondola that would take us up to the top of the luge track. I was pretty nervous about luging because I just assumed, I don’t know why, that we would be basically hurtling down the mountain at top speed without any control. Not true. Luging was actually really fun, and not dissimilar to go-karting. The only difference was that instead of going around a track we were driving on a track down the side of a mountain, past thickets of large ferns and other fauna on either side.

View from the top of the luge track. 
That night we went to a café near our accommodation for a champions feast, and, again, the food was amazing. I got a burger that was ENORMOUS, but so good that I ended up finishing the whole thing. 

Along with the beef the burger was also topped with an onion ring, sauce, an egg cooked over-medium, and stringed beets, in addition to the normal burger-y things like lettuce and tomato. Even though it’s a little strange to an American’s taste, I really like how kiwis put beets on burgers. The savoury beef and sweet-ish beets compliment each other well.

I was super tired that first night, but kept waking up because of the smell. No, not MY smell…I showered, silly…THE smell. Rotorua is built on and around an area with geothermal activity, so as soon as you drive in the first thing that you notice is the sulphur smell of rotten eggs. That night I kept waking up thinking “what the heck is that smell?!?” and then nodding off again when I remembered where I was.

The next morning we cooked breakfast as a group on two stand-alone griddles in the geothermal park across the street from our accommodation.

In the park, steam from a hot pool in the background.

Bubbly mud!
Around the park were pockets of fenced-off bubbling water and mud pits, and in some places there were even huts with pools of cooler, but still heated, water that you could soak your feet in.

Soaking our feet.
After breakfast we headed off to rafting! For some reason I was super scared for luging but not at all scared for rafting…maybe I just didn’t know what was to come! Well, what was to come was the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, the 21 ft waterfall I mentioned in the beginning.

The ride downstream wasn’t as jolting as I thought it would be. The rafts were super buoyant and stable, and the half of the group that I was with stayed upright the whole time. We were soaked by the end, but we stayed upright even over the 21 ft waterfall where the other half of our group in a separate raft flipped over. 

But yeah…so I did this…I'm in the third row of the raft sideways.

We survived!
On the way further downstream we had the chance to jump off a ledge that was twice my height into deep water and float through a rapid feet-first without the boat. Jumping off the ledge was awesome and even though it was high and kind of scary, in my mind I was like “psh I got this, I’ve watched Bear Grylls” ;)

After rafting by the lake.
After rafting, we celebrated with a picnic of fish and chips and L&P (a lemon-y kiwi soda) in a park with huge redwood trees, then headed back home to Auckland.

Quite an awesome weekend. 


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